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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77590 Find in a Library
Title: Defending the Public Interest - Citizen Suits for Restitution Against Bribed Officials
Journal: Tennessee Law Review  Volume:48  Issue:2  Dated:(Winter 1981)  Pages:347-369
Author(s): B A Levine
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 23
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This comment discusses the citizen's right to restitution of monies wrongfully obtained by public officers through bribes and kickbacks in exchange for political favors.
Abstract: Public interest suits for recovery against bribed officials are similar to class actions since the named plaintiff is a representative of all other citizens, but many of the strict requirements concerning the certification of a class action are not present in public interest litigation. Presently, the only impediment to public interest suits is the question of standing. The major objection to a lenient rule of citizen standing expressed by the courts has been the fear of indiscriminate filing of suits. The chief argument against citizen suits in public interest litigation is that they will create an undue burden on public officials by forcing them to continually defend lawsuits. Nevertheless, emphasis should be placed on citizen suits for several reasons. Under the public trust concept, public officers owe a fiduciary duty to the public. In addition, if citizens are not allowed to sue public officials, civil sanctions will not likely be imposed in most circumstances. Finally, concerned citizens must be permitted to protect the public interest. The paper suggests that if citizens can hold a tighter rein on public officials by forcing them to account for all monies received while in office, the degree of corruption among officials might decrease substantially. The article includes 120 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Bribery; Class action lawsuits; Corruption of public officials; Kickbacks; Public interest advocacy; Restitution
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